Elementary school students often learn that plants grow toward the light. This seems straightforward, but in reality, the genes and pathways that allow plants to grow and move in response to their environment are not fully understood. Leading plant scientists explore one of the most fundamental processes in plant biologyplant movement in response to light, water, and gravityin a January Special Issue of the American Journal of Botany.
Plant movements, known as tropisms, are crucial for plant survival from the second a plant germinates to how a plant positions its flowers for pollinators and seed dispersal. "They are basic processes that underlie all of plant physiology and growth," says Sarah Wyatt, Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental and Plant Biology at Ohio University. Plants adapt and acclimate to their surroundings using tropisms, including moving in response to light (phototropism), water (hydrotropism), and gravity (gravitropism).
To inspire cutting-edge research on plant tropisms, Sarah Wyatt and plant biologist John Kiss, Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Mississippi, co-edited the special issue and invited plants scientists worldwide to write 24 articles that advance and summarize the field. (Their introduction to the issue is available at http://www.amjbot.org/content/early/2013/01/01/ajb.1200591.full.pdf+html.) "Tremendous progress has been made in the field of tropism research in the past decade," comments Kiss. "This issue was an opportunity to bring the community together," adds Wyatt, "and highlight some truly incredible science that has been ongoing 'under the radar' if you will and often under difficult circumstances."
Research in outer space is just one difficult circumstance by which scientists study how plants move. Growing plants in space has become a reality. "The Int
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American Journal of Botany